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Dosing kids's television time

The small screen can sometimes invade our homes, but it remains an essential component of our now high-tech lives. Here are ways to better manage television viewing.

To our dismay, children could sometimes watch TV all day, but we are also big fans of it and our favourite shows. We want to dose television viewing, but we’re also aware that it can be a life saver when it calms the kids down and gives us a little moment of peace and quiet.  

Let’s be honest : television is not all bad. It can be educational as well as entertaining. And rightly so! The main problem is that it can sometimes be invasive. It’s up to us as parents to set some rules for television to have a place in our children’s lives - a place we choose- without taking all the place!

In fact, what if we just needed to find the right balance to enjoy the good side of television, without it causing an unhealthy dependency or becoming a source of conflict?

How to dose TV viewing?
  • Establish clear rules. For example, you could decide that your child can only watch TV in the morning if he’s ready to leave. In the evening? Maybe 15 or 30 minutes before doing his homework, and then the television can only turned back on once all his school work has been completed.
  • Make a habit of listening – at least with one eye and ear – to what your kids are watching. It will allow you to monitor the content, but also to talk about it with your little ones. Television must not become a solo or parallel activity taking you away from your children.
  • Ask yourself about your own TV viewing habits. Your children imitate you, after all!
  • If your child refuses to go play outside or take part in other activities, always preferring to watch TV, there’s a problem!
  • Vary the types of shows you watch: documentaries, sports programs, quizzes, etc.
  • It will be easier to manage television viewing if the TV set is in a common area. Think twice before letting your child have a TV in his room. Otherwise, set the rules right from the start.
  • Be clear about what they’re allowed to watch and what is forbidden. They want to watch shows with violence or offensive language? Use your veto! “Don’t hesitate to forbid them from watching certain shows, even if their friends are allowed to watch them. It is your right as a parent to protect your children from inappropriate content, and they will accept your concerns all the better if they see it as a proof of affection”, states the Réseau-Éducation-Média website.
  • Develop your children’s critical thinking by asking them about what they watch, what they understand, etc. Watching television is not just a passive activity.
  • Turn off the TV. It’s a simple rule, but you’d be surprised to notice how often it is left open without anyone watching it.

The good side of television for children

  • Its ability to create powerful imaginary references allows young people to share these cultural experiences with each other.
  • It allows all family members to spend some time together.
  • Parents can use it as a catalyst to bring their kids to read : using books to explore a subject in depth or reading authors whose works have been adapted for the small or big screen.
  • Quality programming can transmit important values ​​and life lessons to children.
  • Shows often deal with controversial or sensitive topics, which can facilitate discussions between parents and children.
  • Educational shows can develop social and learning skills in young children.
  • News, current affairs and historical programs can help young people learn about other people and cultures.
  • Documentaries can develop their critical thinking toward society and the world around them. 
  • Television can introduce your family to Hollywood classics and other foreign films that are not available at your local video store.
  • Cultural programming can help young people open up to arts and music.

Source : Réseau Éducation-médias

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